In keeping with the other major award shows this year, we’re presenting the 2021 Grainys on a Zoom call. Feel free to change your background, let your dog bark and pop open a cold one as we recall another strange year of notable moments, epic successes and box office flops. Please unmute your microphone for the 2021 Grainy Awards.
Best action drama U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines
For the first time in at least the last decade, this championship was properly about the golf course — its excellent setup and its playable conditions. A thrilling final round showcased the pressure of the National Open, not a manmade, agronomical screwup. It certainly helped that an excellent drama unfolded over the final nine holes, making the 2021 U.S. Open among the most memorable in years. The only regrettable moment was the delayed-reaction, mistimed fighter jet sendoff for former USGA CEO Mike Davis. Do we know who approved this stellar use of taxpayer dollars? Perhaps Mike himself?
Best technical effects Money game
With the explosion of legalized gambling and the PGA Tour’s totally unsurprising embrace of gaming, the technology employed for viewing golf is going to need an overhaul. The three-second broadcast delay allows ample time for on-course techies and texters to hedge their bets before any viewers at home watch the putt drop. Televised golf is going to need a thorough review — or a new watchdog, preferably one with sharp teeth — before long.
Best remake Lefty pulls down another major
A win for the ages … and the aged. On the famously tough Ocean Course at Kiawah, Phil Mickelson turned back the calendar and a very competitive field to emerge victorious from the (literal) crowd and win the 2021 PGA Championship and his sixth major. And speaking of Phil …
BEst supporting actor in two roles at the same time Phil takes on the Champions Tour
Since jumping on the old-guys tour last fall, Phil has won four times, including his first two times teeing it up. So, he can beat the seniors and he can beat the youngsters. When is he going to lace up for the Race to Dubai? Does he think LPGA stands for the Lefty Professional Golf Association? Watch out, AJGA! And fasten your broadcast chair seatbelt, Jim Nantz.
Best visual effects The greenkeeper at Royal St. George’sPaul Larsen, the keeper of the green at Royal St. George’s in southeastern England, stole the show at the 2021 Open Championship. The course, the coif and the untied Converse (“Cons”) were sights to behold and quickly endeared him to the viewing public. You remember Paul. So, real quick and don’t cheat: Who won the Open Championship?
Animated short film Battle of the Bs
The off-screen and on-screen ongoing Bryson vs. Brooks brouhaha took on a life of its own and reached a frenzied crescendo right before the fall’s Ryder Cup. The brawny villain took on the mad scientist repeatedly with photo bombs, social media jabs and Twitter fights. The media certainly ate it up and kept the flames fanned. But did the public care? And did it help or hurt how each man-child played? Whether it was real or forced, their handshake when the Ryder Cup was over couldn’t have come soon enough.
Worst film editing TERPS becomes twerps
The USGA program formerly known as TERP — Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program — was rebranded the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management in honor of the retiring USGA CEO. Advancing? Lest we forget, Mike “managed” the setups at Pebble Beach (2010), Merion (2013), Pinehurst (2014), Chambers Bay (2015) and Shinnecock (2018) in less than stellar fashion. For my money, the honor should have gone to the late Jim Snow, the longtime national director of the USGA’s Green Section, who truly was a champion of research and the environment. Or how about one of the many other researchers, scientists or environmentalists who, through tireless turfgrass research, has improved our game?
Best remakes A star is born
Like film editing, golf course restoration is a fine art.
Andrew Green’s “remakes” of the classics — Inverness Club, Oak Hill Country Club, Congressional Country Club and Scioto Country Club — are sequels worthy of Grainy Committee acknowledgement.
Best drama to come Another Tiger comeback?
Following February’s horrific car accident, which left the iconic Tiger Woods in no shape to walk let alone play golf, we’re getting hints of his rehabilitation progress. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time he’s been counted out only to shock and surprise the golf world. Don’t bet against him (and I’m sure you can already get odds somewhere in Vegas). We’re looking forward to this sequel almost as much as Season 3 of “Ted Lasso.”
Live action short film GCSAA takes down USGA
Hats off to CEO Rhett Evans, president Mark F. Jordan and the board of the GCSAA for standing up to the Darth Vader that is the USGA, which attempted to take on superintendent job placement as part of the Green Section’s “services.” Fast action by the GCSAA mobilized the forces and shut down this attempted money-grab before it ever left the launch pad.
Lifetime achievement award The golf course superintendent
Because the last year or so seemed like a lifetime to all of you “non-essential” workers who kept courses open, gave the activity-starved public something to do and somewhere to go, and helped make golf cool (or at least profitable) again. All this while continuing to battle labor shortages, inflation, supply chain woes and national health issues, and dealing with the never-ending oversupply of ball marks and player demands. “Supporting” actors, indeed. Without your support, golf would have faded away like Rupert Grint.